PITTSBURGH – The journey continues tomorrow night (Saturday) for Matt “Sweet Child” Conway (20-2, 8 KOs) as he continues to bring boxing’s popularity back to what it was back in the glory days.
Conway headlines “Winter Mayhem,” which will be streamed live on www.facebooklive.com for $19.99 (at Cut ‘N’ Run Productions’ page), versus cross-state rival Avery Sparrow (10-3, 3 KOs), of Philadelphia, in the 12-round main event for the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) Super Featherweight Championship, at the Pittsburgh Shrine Center in Cheswick, Pennsylvania.
While boxing in Pittsburgh will never be as popular as it once was during the glory years when local heroes Harry Greb (1913-26), Billy Conn 1934-48), and Charlie Burley (1936-50) were household names at the junction of 3 rivers, Conway hopes to make the sweet science more relevant than it has been there in many years.
“Fighting for a world title is a dream come true for me, especially bringing a title back to Pittsburgh,” said Conway, who has never been stopped in 22 pro fights. “Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big boxing town since Paul Spadafora (1995-2014) and Sammy Vasquez fought (2012-2017). I’d like to help bring boxing back here to that level.
“I’m really hoping to win the IBA World title to get my name out there so that this kid from Pittsburgh
gets more recognition and title fight opportunities. I want to continue the rich Pittsburgh boxing tradition. It’ll start when I bring the IBA title to Pittsburgh. There are a lot of talented, young fighters in Pittsburgh. We just need to fight and (promoter) Derek Gionta is doing that for me and other fighters. He’s really helping us.”
The 26-year-old Conway is fully prepared to face Sparrow, who’s notable victories have been against fellow Philly fighter 29-2-1 Hank Lundy (WMDEC10) and 19-1-1 Jose Lopez (WUDEC10).
“He’s a tough fighter who uses his jab and is able to move and box,” Conway said about Sparrow. “I’ll try to nullify his left hand and do what I do.”
Conway, who has never been stopped in 22 pro fights to date, has successfully bounced back from back-to-back losses in Reno and Las Vegas on the ESPN+ platform to, respectively, to 10-1-1 Francisco Esparza (SDEC8) and 17-0 Gabriel Flores, Jr. (UDEC8).
“It wasn’t difficult,” Conway talked about coming back from two straight losses after winning his first 17 pro fights. “I lost to a 17-0 guy in Las Vegas. I learned more from my two losses than I did in my 17 wins going into those fights. I’ve taken what I’ve learned from those fights and applied it to my last three fights (all wins). I’m hungrier!”
“Matt has done everything asked of him over the last year, going 3-0),” Gionta remarked. “This is a big fight for the region. Having a cross-state rival from Philly in the main event is huge. Sparrow is a very good boxer and anyone that knows anything about boxing knows that and how good of a match-up this is.
“Putting a belt on the line in a 12-rounder is enough to intrigue casual fans aside from our loyal boxing followers. A win against Sparrow will do a lot for Conway. Most importantly, it’ll show how much he developed over the past year or so and will line him up for bigger challenges down the road.”
In the co-featured event, Ohio lightweight Ryizeemmion “The Humble Beast” Ford (6-1, 4 KOs) faces Texan Charles Clark (3-8-1, 1 KO) in the 6-round co-featured event.
Scheduled to fight on the undercard in 4-round bouts are heavyweight Anthony Halloway (3-2-2, 3 KOs) vs. Thomas Hawkins (4-9-1, 1 KO), undefeated Portugal super featherweight Milton Jorge Andrade Jeremias (2-0, 2 KO) vs. David Boria (0-4), and super featherweight Alexander Castellano (5-1, 2 KOs) vs. Shawn Rall (1-4, 1 KO).
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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